Employees at Houston Hospital Sue Hospital for Mandating the Vaccine

A stock image of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine.
Getty Stock Images

The medical center is requiring all its employees to get vaccinated by June 7, but some employees have no plans of doing so.

Several employees at a Houston hospital are suing after the hospital mandated that all employees would need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A group of 117 employees at Houston Methodist filed a suit on Friday in attempt to exclude themselves from the hospital-wide mandate that requires all of its 26,000 employees to be vaccinated by June 7, CBS News reported

Houston Methodist, which is a medical center comprised of six community hospitals, is the first medical establishment in the U.S. to issue a vaccination mandate, but the workers involved in the suit say that the hospital is "forcing its employees to be human "guinea pigs as a condition for continued employment," according to the complaint obtained by CBS News.

The new rule "requires the employee to subject themselves to medical experimentation as a prerequisite to feeding their families," the complaint also claims.

Houston Methodist said that 99% of their employees have complied with the mandate and received the vaccine.

"It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way," Houston Methodist said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. "It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental. More than 165 million people in the U.S. alone have received vaccines against COVID-19, and this has resulted in the lowest numbers of infections in our country and in the Houston region in more than a year."

Before the mandate, the hospital awarded workers an extra $500 in March for receiving the vaccine, but it did let employees know that it eventually wouldn't be optional. The hospital's president, Marc Boom, said the decision to mandate the vaccine wasn't made lightly in an email to employees in late April, CBS News reported.

"By choosing to be vaccinated, you are leaders-showing our colleagues in health care what must be done to protect our patients, ourselves, our families and our communities," the email read.

Out of 1,200 people in management at the hospital, two chose to leave after the vaccine requirement was communicated. It's not clear what will happen to employees that still continue to refuse vaccination. In December, the EEOC said that employers can legally require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with exceptions for those with disabilities or those with "sincerely held" religious beliefs.

Currently, 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are administered in the United States per day.

Related Stories